A Multidisciplinary Approach to Assess Smallholder Farmers’ Adoption of New Technologies in Development Interventions

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Diane Kapgen and Laurence Roudart
Palgrave Macmillan
The European Journal of Development Research


In spite of decades of research, the complexity of new technology uptake by smallholder farmers in the context of development interventions is still little understood. In order to unravel the motives for, and barriers to, technology adoption, we propose a multidisciplinary qualitative framework that expands the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework with the agronomic Agrarian system approach and the Development anthropology-based ECRIS (Rapid Collective Inquiry for the Identification of Conflicts and Strategic Groups) approach. Such a framework allows to analyze smallholder farmers’ livelihoods, agricultural activities from an ecological cum technical cum economic point of view, and social learning processes involving power relationships. Its use is exemplified by studying the adoption of stone bunds in an agroecological development program in Burkina Faso. Many farmers cannot adopt this technology fully because of agricultural production system or livelihood shaped barriers, and because of power relationships bearing on the technology uptake process.